Press Release

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights - Joint Press Release

UN and Inter-American Human Rights Systems Sign Joint Declaration on Collaboration

November 19, 2014

Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), represented by President Tracy Robinson and Executive Secretary Emilio Alvarez Icaza Longoria, and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, represented by the High Commissioner, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, today signed a joint declaration on collaboration.

The declaration between the UN Human Rights Office and the IACHR aims to strengthen the partnership between the universal and regional human rights systems, by reinforcing and formalizing practices that have already been in place. These include joint actions, regular consultations and exchange of information and collaboration in standard-setting, as well as a range of other activities.

At the signing ceremony, High Commissioner Zeid stated that "the work of my Office and the IACHR is complementary. By working together we can do more to protect and promote human rights in the American continent. The Inter-American Commission is a highly respected body and has our strong support. We are concerned about resistance by certain individual countries towards the regional system and urge all OAS member States to abide by their responsibility to support the Inter-American Commission by complying with its decisions and providing it with adequate funding."

IACHR President Tracy Robinson said that "the UN and the Inter-American Commission face similar challenges. Our alliance is therefore crucial to strengthening our role in helping States to meet their human rights obligations and victims to enjoy their rights. We welcome this declaration as an important step in reinforcing the human rights of the inhabitants of the Americas and look forward to continuing this close contact with the High Commissioner, his Office and the human rights mechanisms it services."

High Commissioner Zeid and IACHR discussed human rights situations in the Americas of common concern in order to prioritize joint action, in particular human rights in the development and economic spheres, as well as the violence and insecurity plaguing many countries in the region. While Latin America and the Caribbean have made important progress in reducing poverty, the region still has enormous income disparities. This is caused and exacerbated by entrenched discrimination -- especially towards indigenous communities -- which fuels social unrest. The region also has the highest homicide rates in the world in a non-conflict setting. Such high levels of violence and insecurity constitute a grave threat to all human rights and the rule of law in the region.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 137/14